Nation: Hard Astern

For the U.S. merchant fleet, peace is hell. More effectively than U-boats, its own unions have helped drive American shipping off the seas—or else, as a last resort against the world's highest labor costs and taxes, into foreign registry. By any measure, the 78-day-old Atlantic and Gulf Coast shipping strike by three maritime unions that ended last week was one of the most disastrous in history.

By idling nearly 200 freighters and passenger liners, the walkout cost the maritime industry and labor $150 million. Moreover, judging from previous strikes, at least 10% of the cargo diverted to foreign ships will never return...

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